Tuesday’s Second Congressional District debate at the University of Colorado at Boulder brought more than twice the expected number of attendees. The Second Congressional District debates have drawn progressively more people recently, as analysts have begun to acknowledge the chance that Leing might best his Democratic opponent, noting in particular his success in raising money to finance his campaign.
Even the Denver Post has noted that the CD2 race is “getting livelier.”
When organizers realized they couldn’t fit all the people who wanted to watch the debate into the room they initially planned for, they moved it to another room with more than double the capacity of the original – and the largest lecture hall in the Eaton Humanities building. That was still insufficient to accommodate everyone who showed up, with people continuing to arrive and gathering outside the locked doors.
Even in Boulder, the majority of debate attendees supported Jared Polis’s challenger, George Leing. An estimated two thirds of the people watching were Leing supporters, and everyone – student and non student alike – gathered outside also supported the Niwot Republican.
Leing still faces an uphill battle in the district, which hasn’t elected a Republican since 1975. The district was drastically changed in the 2011 redistricting scheme, though. Now it contains near-equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans and a large group of unaffiliated voters – 42 percent of Larimer County voters, alone. Overall, CD2 has an estimated 37 percent Independents, 33 percent Democrats and 29 percent Republicans. And in Larimer County, Leing earned the endorsements of both the Coloradoan and CSU’s Collegian. Mathematically, this means that Leing could win.
He brings a unique perspective to the race, too, as a Chinese-American, second generation immigrant. Leing says his goal is to represent the people of the district and unite groups with disparate interests in Colorado and Washington. In a district which contains red and blue counties, urban and rural, mountain and Front Range, this is important. With entire counties that haven’t seen their congressman since he traveled to promote the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – in 2009, this provides a strong draw for Republicans and Independents alike.
As Leing works to overcome his primary obstacle – lack of name recognition – the increasing debate turnouts and ground-level enthusiasm for his campaign is a promising sign.